Do you love and care for your back all the time or only when you have back pain?
A few interesting facts about back pain provided by the American Chiropractic Association:
• Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010.
• Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
• One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
• Experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives.
• Most cases of back pain are mechanical or non-organic—meaning they are not caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture or cancer.
• Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain—and that’s just for the more easily identified costs.
“The back” is a pretty important part of the human body so one would think caring for it should be a high priority. This area of the body is an intricate structure with many components, all of which can be strained, ruptured, or irritated resulting in pain. “The lower back where most back pain occurs includes the five vertebrae (referred to as L1-L5) in the lumbar region, which supports much of the weight of the upper body. The spaces between the vertebrae are maintained by round, rubbery pads called intervertebral discs that act like shock absorbers throughout the spinal column to cushion the bones as the body moves. Bands of tissue known as ligaments hold the vertebrae in place, and tendons attach the muscles to the spinal column. Thirty-one pairs of nerves are rooted to the spinal cord and they control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain,” reports the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
“According to The American Physical Therapy Association Move Forward survey, in which over 2600 respondents shared their experiences and habits regarding back pain, 39% of adults reported that LBP prevents them from fully engaging in daily life tasks. Amongst this, 38% of adults noted it affects their exercise and 37% stating it affects their sleep,” as noted by thegoodbody.com.
And, as the graphic below depicts, again from thegoodbody.com, the number of Americans experiencing lower back pain is on the rise, especially for those 65 years old and older. This data was collected in a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control.
Back pain used to apply more to those who were on their feet all day or involved in work that required manual labor. Today, however, many Americans spend most of their days sitting . . . at a desk or watching tv or working on the computer. According to healthprep.com, “Sitting puts, at least, double the stress on the spine as opposed to standing. And if the body slouches when sitting it increases that pressure even more. Movement is vital to incorporate throughout the day as disks in the spine act as shock absorbers in the body and if the body remains still, these disks do not receive the necessary nutrients they need which lead to tightness and pain.”
Movement IS vital and Sunrise Yoga wants you to know how to better care for your back! We offer Back Care yoga classes at least three times each week and these classes are open to all levels of students, including those who have never taken a yoga class. And students of all ages are welcome!
MSN.com noted that, “Last year a major review of medical evidence by the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the US concluded that regular yoga sessions could improve body function and relieve pain associated with chronic lower back pain.”
In our Back Care yoga classes, students learn poses to relieve muscle tension; learn safe poses to increase flexibility in the hips, shoulders and back; practice strengthening poses to give the spine and neck adequate support; experience ways to improve posture and alignment; and learn relaxation techniques to help reduce mental stress often associated with chronic pain. These classes are suitable for all practitioners, but special care is made to assist those with back issues. Overall emphasis is also placed on building a strong and healthy back for everyone, so as to avoid future back-related problems.
Please care for your back and join us at any of the classes below:
We’ve got your back!
March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month and Sunrise Yoga wants to do its part to raise awareness of this unpredictable neurological disorder. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “MS symptoms are variable and unpredictable. No two people have exactly the same symptoms, and each person’s symptoms can change or fluctuate over time,” but many have found that practicing yoga and meditation help make it easier to live with whatever symptoms develop.
Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease of the brain and spinal cord, the main components of the central nervous system, and affects nearly 400,000 Americans. “Common symptoms include muscular weakness, stiffness, and pain; loss of balance and coordination; numbness and tingling in the limbs; speech, vision, and bladder problems; short-term memory loss; impaired concentration; and abnormal fatigue. In severe cases, a person may become blind or paralyzed,” as noted in Sharon Sexton’s article, “A Life Worth Living”, on the Yoga International website.
She goes on to say, “Although the exact cause remains a mystery, many experts believe that MS begins as an immune response mounted against an invader—a virus, perhaps—that mutates into an attack against the body itself.”
The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America supports Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month with educational activities and events. “MSAA has focused 2018’s awareness campaign on Understanding MS Progression, with specific topics addressing MS relapse management, brain preservation and cognition in MS, and healthy living with primary-progressive MS (PPMS).” MSAA lists the following as symptoms related to MS:
Common Physical Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
mobility and walking issues
Common Emotional, Mental, and Psychological Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA)
Common “Invisible” Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Maryann B. Hunsberger, a New Jersey-based freelance writer/editor who specializes in disability issues, writes, “People with MS – whether they show no outward signs of illness or whether they use a wheelchair – need physical exercise. Yoga is especially beneficial, as it releases muscular tension, improves flexibility and circulation, helps with balance and fatigue, and boosts mental alertness. It reduces the effect of sensory changes by increasing functional abilities to a higher level.
Yoga is a gentle form of exercise, and the authors point out that yoga always gives more energy than it takes, making it ideal for those whose energy is limited from MS. Since yoga involves sustained muscle stretches, it helps with the spasticity that sometimes accompanies MS by promoting muscle relaxation. Holding these postures requires isometric effort that increases strength. Because yoga encourages muscle groups to work together, it helps with impaired coordination and balance.”
These comments appear on the MSAA web site as part of a review Hunsberger made on the book, Yoga and Multiple Sclerosis: A Journey to Health and Healing (Demos Medical Publishing, 2007) by Loren M. Fishman, MD and Eric L. Small. She observed, “Fishman and Small derived the yoga program described in the book from the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the world’s most renowned yoga instructors, who practices therapeutic Hatha yoga in Poona, India. Small has spent the past 40 years as an internationally recognized Iyengar yoga instructor. He has also had MS for more than 50 years. He has further developed Iyengar’s work to create a yoga program for MS patients of varying mobility levels. Fishman, an assistant clinical professor in rehabilitation at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, has incorporated yoga in his medical practice for more than 25 years. Both authors have studied with Iyengar in India.”
In the book, Eric Small says, “I am not cured. Iyengar yoga has become the tool with which I handle the day-to-day contingencies of living with MS. I am very proud to hold a Senior II teaching certificate from Mr. Iyengar personally, which has enabled me to travel far and wide teaching others the benefits of Iyengar Hatha Yoga.”
Yoga Journal reports, “A recent Rutgers University study found that women with moderate symptoms of multiple sclerosis experienced improvements in balance, walking, coordination, and quality of life after eight weeks of practicing yoga.” In this study, researchers from Rutgers’ School of Health Related Professions studied the effects of a specialized yoga program for MS patients, incorporating mind, body, and spirit on the quotidian life scale of 14 women with moderate disability due to the disease.
In addition to the physical benefits of practicing yoga, yoga and meditation address the mental and emotional issues related to MS. “Being mindful has a way of bringing you into the present, so for those with MS who don’t know what they’ll wake up to or what the next day or month might bring, mindfulness can reduce anxiety and pain during everyday life challenges,” says Mindy Eisenberg, founder of Yoga Moves MS, a Michigan nonprofit organization, and author of Adaptive Yoga Moves Any Body (everydayhealth.com). “The Yoga Moves philosophy cultivates empowerment, healing, and fun. Yoga is a way to feel alive in our bodies. The more we develop the mind body relationship, we learn much more about our capabilities than our disabilities and limitations, and open to new possibilities both on and off the yoga mat.”
The Rutgers research team mentioned earlier suggests beginning with the Mountain Pose with overhead stretch (Tadasana) and the Forward Bend to waist height (Uttanasana) and the variations of these two poses. Everyone is encouraged to first seek doctor approval prior to beginning any yoga program.
Sunrise Yoga has offered Chair Yoga for many years. Chair Yoga classes are appropriate for those with special health conditions like MS, those who want a slower paced class or those who are looking for a beginner level class. The class is open to students who use walkers, canes, and wheelchairs.
Most of the class activity is performed seated in a chair. For those who are able, some standing (with support) and floor movements may be given. For those who are unable, alternate poses appropriate for remaining seated will be given. Students could potentially benefit from the practice of yoga and may see improved range of motion and flexibility, involvement in a social activity, strengthened muscles and joints, and reduced stress. These classes include yoga poses for the body, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques.
If you have been diagnosed with MS or if you know someone who has, please contact us to get started on a yoga journey. Our Sunrise Yoga team is ready to serve as your guide to “walk that fine line between courage and caution” and face each day with mindfulness and empowerment.
If you have been watching the sky, you may have noticed the moon has basically been “disappearing” over the past few days as it moves into waning crescent/new moon phase. BUT, you can be your own moon during this “dark” phase by practicing the half moon pose or Ardha Chandrasana (are-dah chan-DRAHS-anna)!
In Sanskrit, ardha translates as “half” and candra means glittering, shining, having the brilliancy or hue of light and can be translated as “moon“.
“Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) invites you to tap into both the calm, balancing energy of the moon and the fiery force of the sun,” according to yogajournal.com. “The moon has a rich symbolic significance in yoga mythology. In hatha yoga, for example, the sun and the moon represent the two polar energies of the human body. In fact, the word hatha itself is often divided into its two constituent syllables, “ha” and “tha”, which are then esoterically interpreted as signifying the solar and lunar energies respectively.”
“Half Moon Pose is a great asana for learning how to balance and grow awareness in what can at first seem a disorienting position.”
Yoga Basics offers the following instructions for achieving the half moon pose:
1. From High Lunge with the left foot forward, inhale and step forward into the left foot, straightening the left leg. Straighten the right leg up parallel to the floor.
2. Staring at a point on the floor, place the left palm directly under the left shoulder and carefully bring the right hand to the right hip. Roll the right hip up and back so the hips face the side wall.
3. Inhale the right fingertips up towards the ceiling. Turn the head to face the side wall. Work on turning the whole torso to face the side wall.
4. Breathe and hold for 3-5 breaths.
5. To release: exhale and slowly bring both hands back to the floor and step the foot back into High Lunge.
6. Repeat on other side.
You can watch a video here on the half moon yoga pose.
Posing tips, offered by Kat Heagberg through Yoga International include:
• Keeping your front knee aligned, press your front foot down into the floor, and resist it to the right, as though you were trying to turn your front foot out, but can’t because it’s stuck to the floor.
• Keep that, and press your back foot against the wall, and resist up, as though someone was trying to push your back thigh down and you were resisting against them (your foot and leg won’t actually move, you’re just resisting).
• Maintaining this dual resistance (pressing down and resisting out with the front foot, and pressing back into the wall and resisting up with the back foot), you might even find that you’re so stable that you can not only extend your top arm up, but you might even be able to lift your bottom hand away from the block!
The pose can ease lower-back problems, relieving sacrum pain, sciatica pain, and lumbar aches, and therapeutic applications include anxiety, osteoporosis, fatigue, constipation, gastritis, indigestion, and menstrual pain.
Would you like to learn more about the half moon pose? Bring your glittering, shining, brilliant self to Sunrise Yoga and let one of our glittering, shining, brilliant instructors assist you! We would be over the moon to work with you!
Check out our class schedule to find a class that works for you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Kim and her husband, Lynn, have a new little cowgirl in the family, their granddaughter, 6 month old Emersyn, and they are looking forward to entertaining and educating her at their “mini farm”. On the farm they have horses, cows, chickens, dogs, and a miniature donkey, all wonderful things for “Lolly” and “Pop” to show off to Emersyn!
Kim teaches Chair Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Back Care Yoga, Level One Yoga, and All Levels Yoga at Sunrise Yoga. You can find her teaching schedule here.
Kim came to yoga hoping to improve range of motion after breast cancer treatments. She found that yoga brought her so much more than physical flexibility and strength. The awareness and peacefulness that she found with yoga encouraged her to deepen her practice.
Kim completed a 330-hour teacher training program at Triad Yoga Institute and began teaching in 2008. She graduated from the Sunrise Yoga Teacher Training program as a 500-hour Certified Yoga Teacher and is now a 500-hour Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT500) with Yoga Alliance.
If you have had any classes with Kim, leave her some love here on the blog or send her a message to email@example.com.